Thursday, June 30, 2016

Day 2 - Day 4 Korea Cycling Adventure (Seoul Searching)

Day 2 - The plan was to travel south of Seoul to visit a Korean Folk Village & Suwon Fortress at the vicinity of Suwon.
Our stay at 53 Seoul Hotel came with a simple breakfast in the form of take away (Korean called it take out). By 7.30am our breakfast will be hanging on our door knob.
We took a train from Anguk Station to Sangal Station with a transfer at Dogok Station.
On the way to the Folk Village we stopped at this awesome restaurant for a porky affair, we were the first customer as it was still early.
We enjoyed the meal with full satisfaction and the pricing was very reasonable less than 40,000KRW for 5 of us. The ladies working spoke to us in Mandarin hence communication was not an issue at all here.
It was a weekend the traffic was all jammed up going towards the village and of course we do not have any problem with our bicycles except we have to parked our bicycles at a corner inside the village compound.
We were able to see the traditional culture, the old farming village houses, stores, workshops, some traditional food, clay pot making, traditional wedding and lots more. It was truly educational and I enjoyed it very much. GPS location : 37.259681, 127.120864
There was so many junctions & traffic lights, it was difficult to ride in such condition.
Hwaseong Fortress is the wall surrounding the centre of Suwon, the provincial capital of Gyeonggi-do, South Korea. 
The site was designated as a World Heritage site by the UNESCO in 1997. We were fortunate to catch the last train to Seoul and what a long day indeed.
Day 3 - to visit Nami Island
Our first night at Seoul 53 Hotel was pleasant which came with a take out breakfast with a roll of gimbap Korean glutinous rice roll and sandwich. Seoul 53 Hotel is located near the palaces like Changdeogung Palace & Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Our destination at Gapyeong Station for Nami Island, we made some mistake taking the connecting trains but nevertheless we made it to Gapyeong.
On our way to Nami Island we spotted a restaurant with many patrons in an aquarium looking shop front and decided to try the food. They was serving Dakgalbi and it was our first Dakgalbi meal in Korea.
It is kind of spicy stir fried chicken meat with rice cake, rice and lot of veggies. We enjoyed the food and the fun of frying the food on the hot plate.
Our bicycles were not allowed to enter into the island and hence only two person went in and the rest hangout at Gapyeong jetty.
Anne & Fenn visiting the land of winter sonata.
The crowd going into the island was fantastic and we found out that there is bicycle rental available on the island and maybe our small folding bikes could deprive of their rental income hence they are barred.
Bye bye Gapyeong Jetty just wondering whether I will be back here again.
The number of bicycles boarding the train was tremendous, it is only allowable on the first and last coach and many were not able to board as it was too packed. This is Korea cycling culture and I just wish our local train could emulate this for a better cycling community in Malaysia.
It was a long train ride, standing all the way back.
The cycling culture in Korea is truly amazing.
Finally we were back to Seoul, we stopped by at this shop for beer and light meal before we called it a night. Tomorrow we have another day in Seoul.
Day 4 - Visiting nearby places of attraction

The first place we visited was Changdeogung Palace which was very near Seoul 53 Hotel.
The staff of Seoul 53 Hotel recommended us to visit Samcheong Park for a good view, the road to the park is steep like those seen in San Francisco. Before we could reach the park we stopped at this shop for brunch.
The variety to share, simple and nice.
The road of Samcheong with Seoul Tower at the far end.
Posing with some Taiwan tourists with their traditional Korean costume.
We enjoyed seeing this trendy places of Samcheong neighbourhood
One of the graffiti at Samcheong Road.
Our next destination was Myeongdong Catholic Catheral, we kind of going round the neighbour to reach the entrance of this church as it was surrounded by massive development.
Panda bear on top of the building at Myeongdong.
Battling through the shopping paradise of Namdaemun located at the centre of Seoul, the market is selling all kind of everything.
After much of pushing our bicycles in Namdaemun we exited from Gate 5 and headed for our hotel.
It was time to make a decision of what to eat and where to eat, interestingly we were at this small alley which smell of good food and it must be it.
Bingo! we hit the jackpot with a night of BBQ pork ribs.
We were not wrong with our choice and it was a super fantastic dinner and of course with our Hite beer. 건배, Gun bae.

A clip of Seoul Searching

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Day 1 - Korea Cycling Adventure - Ara Bicycle Path to Seoul

After months of planning, we finally kicked off the tour flying from KLIA 2 to Incheon International Airport. We reached Korea as per the schedule touching down early in the morning around 8plus.
Fenn's bag could fit in all our Dimpa bags & a Vicinta bag. We shall see this yellow bag in 13 days time.
The first place we visited was Hanjin Courier Service as we have enquired earlier that our bags for our bicycles could be couriered to Dong Yang Motel, Busan (our last accommodation for this tour). 
Next was to collect my pre-paid sim card which I have purchased online for 30,000KRW for a Basic Plan of 1G data and usable within 1 month. Please use the data wisely or else the data will be used up before you complete your tour. Wifi is easily available and shift it wifi mode whenever possible.
Our plan was to board a train from the airport and disembark at Cheongna International City Station which is the nearest to the start of Ara Bicycle Path to Seoul and that is 4 stops away from Incheon International Airport.
One for the album at Cheongna International City Station and we were eager to start our ride. The weather was superb, by the way our team comprised of Joseph a.k.a. Jotaro or Joe, Anne Cheong, Fenn Siah & my wife Jocelyn (Jo) and myself.
We found the starting line of the 4 Rivers Bike Path and it goes all the way to Busan for a distance of 633km. We will be using part of it to Busan where we will be staying there for 3 nights before we fly back to Kuala Lumpur. In between the 2 cities we have 16 days to spend.
The first stamping booth for our 4 Rivers Trail Cycling Tour Passport purchased at 4,000KRW.
Let's stamp the first one onto the passport.
I am truly impressed with the cycling culture in Korea, I saw so many amazing things as I rode along Ara Cycling Trail, the crowd, the facilities, the infrastructures and the enthusiasm.  
Mobile bike servicing like this is seen along the trail.
Hardly could I see any pot hole on the trial, the scenery is amazing and Ara Trail is basically flat and easy.
The Saturday crowd was amazing there are small wheels seen but not many.
Guess it's the beginning of summer time and camping is so popular among the Korean.
Seoul here we come as we emerged from the cycling trail heading towards Seoul Hotel 53.
The Route - 57km
A clip of Day 1